Three Simple Steps to a Search Engine Optimized Site (And What Not To Do!)

Here are a few simple tips to making your page more search engine friendly.

Give Your Guests What They Want

Provide high-quality content on your website pages, most importantly on your homepage. This is without a doubt the most important thing to do. When your pages contain useful information, they’ll attract more visitors and convince other webmaster and bloggers to link to your site or posts. When you are creating a helpful, informative web site, remember to write clearly and accurately describe your topics. Try to think about the words that users would actually type to find your pages and then include them in your content.

Get Other Sites to Link Back To You

A web crawler (or spider) is an internet surfing robot (It’s not quite as cool as it sounds.) that search engines use to index your websites’ content. They automatically ‘craw’ or ‘spider’ the web, examining content, following links and making a digital map of the internet. You can think about it like a roadmap. The bigger cities are bolded and the names are printed larger. That’s not because the cartographers were showing favoritism, but because they have the most roads leading in to them and the most to offer when you get there. It’s more likely that someone will need to know where Portland, Oregon is, than a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Every Link a crawler discovers that leads them back to your website helps to place you above your competition.

When returning results, search engines use intelligent text matching techniques to provide pages that are both relevant and important to the search. They tend to interpret a link from a site back to yours as a vote cast in your favor. The more organic links back to a site the more ‘important’ it becomes and the more ‘important’ a page is, the more weight it’s vote casts. This helps the search engines distinguish between organic links and unnatural ones. Organic links to your site will develop on their own as other sites find your content valuable and think it might be useful to their visitors whereas ‘unnatural’ links such as paid link schemes and doorway pages are created to give websites the illusion of being more important.

Today’s search engines are smart enough to know the difference, only natural, organic links are important when it comes to increasing the ranking of your site. Unnatural links are not only ignored, in many cases they can get your website removed from the search engines (blacklisted).

Make Your Site Make Sense

To help your site stand out, make sure your site is built from the ground up with a logical link structure and that every page is accessible from at least one permanent link on your site.

A great way to test how your site is viewed by search engines is to test your site with a text based browser such as Lynx. Remember that the page layout and pretty pictures don’t mean anything to a web crawler, they can only read the text and try to make sense of it. If there are aspects of your site such as frames, flash, javascript, cookies or session ID’s that keep you from seeing your site on a text browser the crawlers can’t see it (and won’t index it) either.

What Not To Do!

Do not under any circumstances use images to display important content, names or links.

Crawlers do not recognize text contained in graphics. If you have to use an image to convey something make certain you are using an ALT attribute to explain to the crawlers what the image is about. If you have your brand name or products displayed only in a logo/graphic and that image was not visible to you. Would you have any idea what it was about?

Don’t fill your page up with spammy lists of keywords, put up crawlers only pages or attempt to cloak your web url.

If your site contains text, links or pages that you don’t intend for your visitors to see, designed only to try to trick the web crawlers they’ll not only consider that content deceptive and will ignore it, they may end up blacklisting your site altogether.

Don’t create separate copies of your pages under different links.

A lot of sites contain print or mobile friendly page versions that contain the same exact content as the original graphic-rich pages presented in a different format. If you can’t streamline your site by implementing responsive code or print ready CSS files and your site has identical page content accessible through different URLS, you need to be indicating that to the search engines by using canonical (or preferred) versions of your pages.

Finally, don’t feel obligated to pay for search engine optimization.

While it might seem like I’m throwing business away by saying this, I like to be honest and upfront about the reality of what SEO is and what it can do for you. When you’re beginning to market your business online you’ll most likely start to receive a bunch of phone calls from companies that “guarantee” they’ll get your page ranked higher (and all you have to do is give them money), these companies do not offer true SEO, but guerrilla SEM (Search Engine Marketing) tactics. Often times as soon as the search engines notice what they are doing, they not only blacklist the companies offering the services, but their clients as well.

While there’s been a lot of confusion in the past few years, if you think about the phrase “Search Engine Optimization” it simply means “Optimizing” your site for search engines by following the guidelines I’ve just laid out. If you’re paying for clicks your not optimizing, you’re marketing. Legitimate SEO will help improve your content and structure and give your site a long-term organic presence on the web. If you do feel your site needs SEO, find an honest consultant who is upfront about what they are offering and the costs involved. While in rare cases your site might need a drastic overhaul, most of the time a few quick updates are all that is really necessary.





17 Apr 2014 / Brian Bailey